Web Services Overview
Inspired by slides written by
Marlon Pierce
Community Grids Lab
Indiana University
What Are Web Services?
The Web services framework is an XML-based distributed
object/service/component system.
• Intended to support machine-to-machine interactions over the
The basic idea is to build a platform and programming
language-independent distributed invocation system out of
existing Web standards.
Very loosely defined, when compared to CORBA, etc.
Inherits both good and bad of the Web
• Scalable, simple, distributed
• But no centralized management: must be tolerant of failures.
Basic Architectures
Web Services
Explanation of Previous Slide
The diagram on the left represents a standard
web application.
• Browsers converse with web servers using HTTP
GET/POST methods.
• Servlets or CGI scripts process the parameters and take
action (for example, connection to a DB).
• Examples: Google, Amazon
On the right, we have a Web services system.
• Interactions may be either through the browser or
through a desktop client (in Java, Python, etc.)
• Examples: Google, Amazon (again !!!)
SOAP: Simple Object Access Protocol
• XML Message format between client and
WSDL: Web Service Description Language.
• Describes how the service is to be used
• Similar to Java Interface.
• Guideline for constructing SOAP messages.
• WSDL is an XML language for writing
Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs).
Amazon and Google Experiment
with Web Services
Both Google and Amazon offer Web
Why? To allow partners to develop custom
user interfaces and applications that use
Google and Amazon data and services.
You can download their APIs and try them.
• http://www.google.com/apis/
• http://www.amazon.com/webservices
Why Use Web Services?
Web services provide a clean separation
between a functionality and its user
This allows a company (Google) with a
sophisticated functionality and huge
amounts of data to make that functionality
available to its partners.
• “Don’t worry about how PageRank works or
web robots or data storage. We will do that.
You just use this WSDL API to build your client
application and use our search engine.”
Google’s PageRank
Google’s PageRank is a search engine that was
developed by two Stanford students.
It is an open algorithm published in scholarly
journals, conferences.
• Previous search engines were all proprietary.
When to Use Web Services?
Two or more organizations need to cooperate
• One needs to write an application that uses another’s
Services can be upgraded independently of
• Google can improve PageRank implemenation without
telling me.
• Just don’t change the WSDL.
Services can be easily expressed with simple
request/response semantics and simple state.
XML and Web services
XML provides a natural substrate for distributed
• It’s just a data description.
• Independent from platform and programming language.
So let’s describe the pieces.
Web Services Description Language (WSDL)
• Describes how to invoke a service.
• Can bind to SOAP for actual invocation.
Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)
• Wire protocol extension for conveying Remote Procedure
Calls (RPC).
• Can be carried over HTTP or SMTP.
Before Going On…
In the next several slides we’ll go into the details
of WSDL and SOAP.
But in practice, you don’t need to work directly
with either.
• Most tools generate the WSDL for you from your Java
• SOAP messages are constructed by classes.
• Generated client stubs will even hide SOAP classes
behind a local proxy that looks like a local class but
actually constructs SOAP calls to the remote server.
Web Services
Description Language
Defines what your service
does and how it is invoked
WSDL Overview
WSDL is an XML-based Interface Definition Language.
• You can define the APIs for all of your services in WSDL.
WSDL docs are broken into five major parts:
• Data definitions (in XML) for custom types
• Abstract message definitions (request, response)
• Organization of messages into “portTypes” and “operations”
(which correspond to classes and methods).
• Protocol bindings (to SOAP, for example)
• Service point locations (URLs)
Some interesting features
• A single WSDL document can describe several versions of an
• A single WSDL doc can describe several services.
The Java Code
public String[] execLocalCommand(String command) {
Runtime rt = Runtime.getRuntime();
String stdout="",stderr="";
try {
Process p = rt.exec(command);
BufferedReader in=
new BufferedReader(new
BufferedReader err=
new BufferedReader(new
Java Code Continued
String line;
while((line=in.readLine())!= null)
while ((line=err.readLine())!=null)
}//End of try{}
catch (Exception eio) {…}
String[] retstring=new String[2];
return retstring;
} //End of method
WSDL Example: Job Submission
Our example is a simple service that can execute
remote commands (local on the server).
Service implementation (in Java) has a single
• ExecLocal takes a single string argument (the
command to be executed)
• returns a string array (with standard out and error).
In this case the WSDL interface is mapped to a
Java interface.
The Full WSDL
The following slide contains the WSDL
definition for the Job Submit service.
• Some data definitions are omitted.
As you can see, WSDL is very verbose
• Typically, you don’t write WSDL
• The WSDL file is generated from the Java class
by Apache Axis.
We will go through the parts of the doc in
some detail.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<wsdl:definitions> … </wsdl:definitions>
<wsdl:message name="execLocalCommandResponse"> …
<wsdl:message name="execLocalCommandRequest"> …
<wsdl:portType name="SJwsImp">
<wsdl:operation name="execLocalCommand">
<wsdl:input message="impl:execLocalCommandRequest"
<wsdl:output message="impl:execLocalCommandResponse"
<wsdl:binding name="SubmitjobSoapBinding" type="impl:SJwsImp">
<wsdlsoap:binding style="rpc" transport="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/http"/>
<wsdl:operation name=“execLocalCommand">
<wsdlsoap:operation soapAction=""/>
<wsdl:input name=“impl:execLocalCommandRequest">
<wsdl:output name="impl:execLocalCommandResponse">
<wsdl:service name="SJwsImpService">
<wsdl:port binding="impl:SubmitjobSoapBinding" name="Submitjob">
WSDL Elements: Types, Messages
Types: describes custom XML data types used in
messages (optional).
• We’ll see an example for defining arrays.
Message: abstractly defines the messages that
need to be exchanged.
• Each method/function in the interface contains 0-1
request and 0-1 response messages.
• Each message consists of part elements. Usually you
need one part for each variable sent or received. Parts
can either be XML primitive types or custom complex
Types for Job Submission
The job submission service receives a string (the
command) and returns a 2-elements array.
Strings are XML Schema primitive types, so we
don’t need a special definition in our WSDL.
Arrays are not primitive types. They are defined in
the SOAP encoding schema, so we will import the
definition of this XML schema.
• In other words, SOAP has rules for array
encoding; simple XML has not.
WSDL types for Custom Data Definition
<import namespace="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/encoding/" />
<complexType name="Array_of_string">
<restriction base="soapenc:Array">
<attribute ref="soapenc:arrayType" wsdl:arrayType="xsd:string[]" />
Inserting a Type
We start with some useful namespace definitions.
We next import the soap encoding schema
• It has the array definitions we need.
• import means a simple cut-and-paste of the entire soap
encoding XML schema.
Finally, we define our own local XML complex type,
• This extends the SOAP array type
• We restrict this to String arrays
Message Elements
Our service implementation has one method:
public String[] execLocalCommand(String cmd)
This will require one “request” message and one “response”
Each message has one part:
• Request message must send the String cmd.
• Response must get back the String[] array (defined
previously as a custom type).
If we had to pass two input variables, our “request”
message would need two part elements.
Note: the name attributes of messages are important,
because they are referred later!
Message Examples for Job
Submission Service
type="xsd:string" />
type="impl:Array_of_string" />
portType elements map messages to operations.
You can think of
• portType==class
• operation==method
Operations can contain input, output, and fault bindings for
An operation may support one of the following message
• One-way: request only
• Two-way: request/response
• Solicit-response: server “push” and client response
• Notification: one-way server push
portType for JobSubmit
We previously defined the messages and types
needed. Now we bind them into the portType
PortType names are important
• They will be referenced by binding element.
Note: names of previously defined messages are
used as references in the operations.
portType definition
<wsdl:portType name="SJwsImp">
<wsdl:operation name="execLocalCommand">
name="execLocalCommandRequest" />
name="execLocalCommandResponse" />
Some Notes on the PortType Definition
PortTypes refer to messages by name
• The message attributes in <input> and
<output> elements of <operation> refer to
the name attributes of the previously defined
• The operation and portType names will
similarly be used for reference in forthcoming
PortType Bindings
portTypes are abstract interface definitions.
• portTypes don’t say anything about how to invoke a remote
Remote invocations are defined in binding elements.
WSDL specification provides different types of bindings:
• SOAP (default)
• MIME (e-mail)
SOAP Bindings for JobSubmit Service
Note that the binding element contains a mixture of tags
from different namespaces (wsdl and wsdlsoap).
WSDL child elements for binding element are operation,
input, and output.
WSDLSOAP elements give instructions to map WSDL to the
protocol of choice (SOAP in this case).
The binding element name is important, it will be used as
a reference by port definitions.
name="SubmitjobSoapBinding" type="impl:SJwsImp">
<wsdlsoap:binding style="rpc"
transport="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/http" />
<wsdl:operation name="execLocalCommand">
<wsdl:input name="execLocalCommandRequest">
use="encoded" />
<wsdl:output name="execLocalCommandResponse">
use="encoded" />
A Closer Look at SOAP Binding
All this really means is “encode the message with
the rules in encodingStyle and put it in the SOAP
The bindings are just instructions that must be
implemented by the SOAP message generator.
Service and Port Definitions
We have defined the class interfaces
(portTypes) and the rules for binding to a
particular protocol.
port elements define how the bindings
(and thus the portTypes) are associated
with a particular server.
The service element collects ports.
Service and Port Elements for the
Job Submission Service
<wsdl:service name="SJwsImpService">
location="http://.../GCWS/services/Submitjob" />
Note that the port element’s binding attribute
points to the appropriate binding element by
The only purpose of the port element is to point
to a service location (a URL).
Ports are child elements of the service element.
A service can contain one or more ports.
• a single portType may correspond to several ports, each
with a different protocol binding and service address.
Simple Object Access
A message format for
exchanging structured, typed
SOAP Basics
SOAP is a format of XML messages for
exchanging structured, typed data.
SOAP is not a transport protocol. You must
attach your message to a transport mechanism
like HTTP.
SOAP Structure
A SOAP message is contained in an envelop.
The envelop element in turn contains (in order)
• An optional header with one or more entries.
• A body element that contains the XML
SOAP Headers
Headers are really just extension points where
you can include elements from other
• i.e., headers can contain arbitrary XML.
Header entries may optionally have a
mustUnderstand attribute.
• mustUnderstand=1 means the message recipient must
process the header element.
• If mustUnderstand=0 or is missing, the header element
is optional.
The body contains the XML message that you are
The message format is not specified by SOAP.
• The <Body></Body> tag pairs are just a way to notify
the recipient that the actual XML message is contained
• The recipient decides what to do with the message.
Developing Web
Using Apache Axis to develop Java
implementations of Web services.
Web Service Development Tools
Web service toolkits exist for various
programming languages:
• C++,Python, Perl, Microsoft .NET
We’ll concentrate on building Java Web services
with Apache Axis.
Apache Axis Overview
Apache Axis is a toolkit for converting Java
applications into Web services.
Axis service deployment tools allow you to
publish your service in a particular application
server (Tomcat).
Client side: Axis client tools allow you to convert
WSDL into client “stubs” (or “proxies”).
Server side: Axis runtime tools accept incoming
SOAP requests and redirect them to the
appropriate service.
Developing and Deploying a Service
Download and install Tomcat and Axis.
Write a Java implementation
• Our SubmitJob is a simple example.
• Compile it with Tomcat.
Write a deployment descriptor (WSDD) for your service.
• It will be used by Axis runtime to direct SOAP calls.
Use Axis tools to install your WSDD file.
• It tells the axis servlet to load your class and direct SOAP
requests to it.
That’s it.
• Axis will automatically generate the WSDL for your service.
Sample WSDD
<deployment name="Submitjob"
<service name="Submitjob" provider="java:RPC">
<parameter name="scope" value="request"/>
<parameter name="className"
<parameter name="allowedMethods"
Axis will create a service called
• http://your.server/services/SubmitJob
WSDL for service is available from
• http://your.server/services/SubmitJob?wsdl
A list of all services is available from
• http://your.server/services
WSDL generated
starting from the Java
Building a Client with Axis
Obtain the WSDL file.
Generate client stubs
• Stubs look like local objects
• They convert method invocations into SOAP messages.
Write a client application with the stubs
• Can be a Java GUI, a JSP page, etc.
Compile everything and run.
Sample Java Client Code
/**Create SubmitJob client object and point to the service you want
to use */
SubmiJob sjws = new
/** Invoke the method as if local. */
String[] messages =